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They Did What?: 

What this year’s Super Bowl ads taught us about advertising

At $4.5 million per 30-second slot, advertising at the Super Bowl is not something you want to get wrong. The best Super Bowl ads will still be remembered at next year’s game, but, by the same token, the worst ones are likely to hang around like the guilt you feel after feasting on those super-sized game day snacks. In other words, if you’re gonna stump up the cash to push your brand into the spotlight, then you better make every second count – and try not to piss anyone off in the process.

Back on the football field it was the New England Patriots who took home the trophy, but which advertisers shared in their glory? And which made a complete mess of their multi-million dollar budget? Here’s what we learnt at this year’s Super Bowl.

1) Don’t hold back

With such a narrow window to make an impact, Super Bowl ads aren’t the time for being cautious. This is all about creating a spectacle, so take a leaf out of Mophie’s book, whose ad this year managed to create an apocalyptic nightmare of epic proportions – featuring natural disasters, spontaneous combustion, animals gone bezerk and even a brief cameo from God. Just don’t ask us what it is that Mophie actually does.

2) ‘Unrelentingly depressing’ is not a good angle

By all means deliver a hard-hitting message, but pick your moments. Football fans look forward to the Super Bowl all year-round, so it’s probably not the best idea to remind them of their own mortality as they tuck into their 14th chicken wing. An even worse idea? Remind them of their children’s mortality and force it down their throats in one grim, 45-second segment. Nice one, Nationwide.

3) It’s good to be self-aware

T-Mobile hit the nail on the head with their Super Bowl ad this year, combining a celebrity that people love to hate (Kim Kardashian) and just the right amount of self-aware humour. Despite being only 30-seconds long, the short clip was always destined to go viral (13 million hits and counting), but the big surprise here is Kim K’s comic timing (“tragic!”).

4) Consider your message

Everyone loves an underdog, but Mercedes’ take on Aesop’s classic ‘Tortoise and Hare’ tale rips the heart right out of the story. Sure, nobody likes a jumped-up, selfie-taking hare, but does anybody really want to see it run over by a shiny Mercedes Benz being driven by a tortoise?

5) Make a song and dance about nothing

Whichever way you look at it, glue just isn’t a sexy product. Loctite’s Super Bowl ad did the sensible thing, then, and created a silly song and dance that’ll stick in your memory. Even if you don’t manage to remember the glue-loving lyrics, the image of those thrusting Loctite-emblazoned fanny packs might be rather more difficult to shake.

6) Sentimentality can backfire

Using cute animals to sell beer might not seem like an obvious choice, but it’s working alright for Budweiser, whose sickly sweet puppy-starring ad has totted up 21 million views in just a few days. Not every view was a happy one, though – and a quick read of the YouTube comments reveals Bud’s ‘lost dog’ is more divisive than it might seem.

7) When in doubt, call Jeff Bridges

With the right star behind you, it doesn’t really matter how strong your advertising concept is. Okay, so we probably won’t get to the end of The Dude’s meditative spoken word album, but we have visited its website and noted its excellent design. A victory for web design platform Squarespace, then.

To watch all of this year’s Super Bowl ads and to vote for your favorite, visit the Ad Blitz channel on YouTube.

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